Monday, October 29, 2012

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds - YUM!

It is the season of falling leaves, mulled cider, and carved pumpkins.  This leads to one of my favorite fall treats, toasted pumpkin seeds.  Below is a great recipe:

Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure.  Place seeds in a saucepan.  For each cup of seeds, add 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  Bring seeds, water, and salt to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

                                                       Remove from heat and drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil.  Bake on top rack for 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. 

Allow seeds to cool completely and add salt to taste.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Promised Harvest

There is something so fulfilling about taking whole foods from the garden and processing them into quality, tasteful foods for my family.  It's even more meaningful when they are from my Dad's garden, the garden I promised him I would see through to harvest when he passed away, this past May.  It has been therapeutic to spend time doing what he and I did, when I was in elementary school.  However, if he saw the number of weeds I have allowed to coexist with the crops, he would not be please.  There has to be a limit to efforts when you live four hours away. 

The Lord brought to our attention that a family near Dad's home was in need, so much of the first harvest went to them.

Salsa was the fruit of the first tomato harvest.  Apple cider vinegar, mild garlic (a lot), cilantro, onions (sweet and yellow), and freshly-squeezed lime juice are the primary ingredients added to chopped tomatoes.  This batch was heavy on the lime, and I liked that about it.  We shared much of it with people with whom we minister in children's ministries at our church. 

The second tomato harvest went into a marinara sauce and homemade stewed tomatoes. The marinara sauce began with roasted tomatoes (quartered and plummed), smothered in sauteed sweet and yelllow onions, banana peppers, as well as mild and spicy garlic. Dad had planted red, yellow, and pink heirloom tomatoes, in addition to yellow pear, red Roma, and other cherry-variety tomatoes.

After an hour of roasting at 250 degrees, the mix was removed from the oven, cooled for a bit, and then, run through the blender.  Over the last few years that I have made bulk batches of marinara to freeze, I have discovered that the more cherry tomatoes I use, the thicker the sauce because more skins are in the mix.

Next was the stewed tomatoes.  These are so easy to make!  I boiled (blanched) the tomatoes for one minute.  Then, after the skins were removed, I plumbed (removed the core) and quartered them.  Once in the stock pot, I added chopped celery, chopped yellow onions (just a bit), salt, pepper, and seasoning salt.  I have used Tastefully Simple and Lawry's, being satisfied with both.  Tender, sliced and cored okra can be added also. 

It doesn't look like your run of the mill stewed tomatoes, but the taste is far better than any canned version.  As usual, it is the common, simple parts of life (the lowercase parts) that are so fulfilling (the uppercase moments).